What to Watch For: Former Flyer bad-boy Steve Downie returns to the Wachovia Center for the first time since his trade to Tampa last month. He's been placed on a line with Mark Recchi. Talk about interesting.. Rick Tocchet really is pulling out all the stops in his new head coaching position. Steve Eminger also returns to Philly, but he never really did anything worthy of mention as a Flyers, so who really cares. Vinny Prospal also returns to face the club he's played two stints with, including last seasons run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Defenseman Matt Carle was the return the Flyers got in the trade, and he's performed VERY well -- exceeding most expectations, in fact -- as a Flyer. Here's to hoping that he shows it in his first matchup with his old club, although his stay in Tampa was very similar to Eminger's stay here.
Downie. Recchi. Tocchet. Prospal. Carle. Eminger. It's like a high school reunion tonight at the Center.
Scouting the Enemy: Tampa isn't really good. They were expected to do a lot better after they made a hundred moves in the offseason, but they've been in disarray all season, firing PR stunt coach Barry Melrose a few weeks after hiring him. They have six wins this season and are in last place in the conference. They've got number one draft pick Steven Stamkos, and Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis are still dangerous, but those guys aren't performing as well as they can, and even if they were firing on all cylinders it wouldn't make up for having no defense. I'm sure Dan Boyle is happy they traded him to San Jose. They haven't won on the road since November 8th (against the Flyers, whatever).
Looks like they have a shot at that number one pick again in 2009.
Between The Pipes: Marty Biron had an ugly outing against Toronto on Saturday night. The Leafs scored their first goal when Dominic Moore pulled Marty out of position and from below the goal line, deflected the puck off of him in the crease where Lee Stempniak was able to slam it into the empty net. For their second goal, Toronto dumped the puck in while on the man advantage and Biron came out of his net to play it. He then irresponsibly tossed the puck up the middle, where it hit Nik Antropov, who scored on yet another empty net. Nevertheless, Biron will try to shake off his tough game with another start tonight against the Bolts.
Tampa will go with Mike Smith, the unknown guy with the really boring name. That's because the goalie with the fun name on the team, Olaf Kolzig, sucks. He's been pulled from two straight starts, the most recent coming on Saturday against Colorado. The former Vezina Trophy winner is 1-4-1 this season with a GAA over 4. Oh, how the mighty fall. Smith has been better than Kolzig, but that's not really something to be proud of.
Injury Report: Danny Briere is BACK! He's been placed on the third line with Andreas Nodl and Joffrey Lupul... strange, but the top line of Gagne, Richards and Knuble has been clicking, so there's no need to mess with it. Riley Cote has also been activated from the LTIR, and he can play tonight. Josh Gratton was sent down to the Phantoms to make room for him.
Hot Off The Presses: Chuck Gormley of the Courier Post talks about how Cote is ready for Downie's return, and if he does anything stupid, he'll be ready. Sam Carchidi of the Inquirer also touches on that subject in his Flyers Notes segment. Tim Panaccio writes at Hockeybuzz on the odd mix on the third line this evening. From the Tampa papers: 40-year-old Mark Recchi is the Bolts' Jamie Moyer, Tocchet is a little pissed his team sucks so much, and a Tampa blogger visited the Liberty Bell... although I'm a little curious why someone would want to be anywhere near Old City today.
Behind Enemy Lines: BoltsBlog
Let's Go Flyers!